Steamed Stuffed Bitter Melon

Course : Chinese
Serves: 2
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1/2 pound pork -- ground
4 medium fresh water chestnuts -- peeled and finely minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons minced scallion
1 1/2 tablespoons Shao Hsing wine or dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon thin soy sauce
1 large egg -- lightly beaten
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 large bitter melons -- about 3/4 to 1 lb.
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons fermented black beans
1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine or dry sherry
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 -- teaspoon cold chicken broth
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Preparation / Directions:

Combine the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl. Mix them thoroughly. The hands are the best tool for this job. Cut the bitter melon into 1-inch slices; discard the end pieces. With a paring knife, trim out the insides. Lift them out. Stuff the cavity of each slice with a generous spoonful of stuffing. Arrange the stuffed pieces of vegetable on a plate and set the plate on a trivet in a wok over enough hot water to come within 1 inch of the plate. Cover the wok and steam the food for 20 minutes. Remove the platter and trivet. In a separate wok or pan, prepare the sauce. First heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Add the garlic and fermented black beans, stir for a minute, then add the Shao Hsing wine, chicken stock and salt. Add the liquid that results from the steaming of the melon. Bring the mixture to a boil. Thicken with the dissolved cornstarch and flavor with sesame oil. Pour the sauce over the bitter melons and serve. Serves 2 as a main course. NOTE: Hom makes no mention of blanching although another bitter melon recipe in another book *does* say that it will cut the bitterness.

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